It’s the one Clause that’s more exciting than Santa — the one that immediately elevates your edtech game, makes you a smarter edtech consumer and aligns your software and hardware investments with your school improvement plan and annual goals.

In our work with schools and districts, colleges and universities, states and networks, we learn a lot about what leading learning organizations are doing to make informed purchase decisions, implement edtech with a focus on effectiveness, and what’s really working for instructor success and student outcomes.

One challenge that we always run into is that too many educators and administrators do not get access to utilization data from product vendors. They sometimes get recommendations on how much to use a product to yield a certain outcome (sometimes called “dosage”), but are they empowered with data after the sale to indicate how often an edtech product is actually used? Not always.

This creates three problems (that leading organizations are solving with one super simple practice):

Problem 1: How can you appropriately select and implement instructional tools and programs without knowing if they’re being used? You simply can’t. You need this information to support your staff with the proper product implementation, support and professional development.

Problem 2: If you don’t know if a product is used, how can you provide external stakeholders with clarity on stewardship of public dollars in the interest of students? Whether it’s parents and board members who want the best for their students; state, federal and/or foundation reporting requirements for grants and other programs; or just getting your arms around return on investment for budget conversations, you need utilization data.

Problem 3: It’s YOUR DATA! Instructional tool use is driven by your students and teachers. Visibility to usage information in a consumable format is not a nice-to-have, but a requirement. Product vendors committed to getting results with their education partners understand your needs, and engage to make sure you’re all working together.

The Simple (and free) Solution: Leading organizations are requiring utilization data from all of their edtech vendors. Best practice contracts like Silicon Valley Education Foundation’s Unified EdTech Contract (being activated by multiple districts in California), the State of Utah’s Digital Teaching and Learning Initiative, and the University of North Carolina System Learning Technology Commons are just a few examples.

If you’re an education administrator, take a few minutes to update your standard, approved contract language by adding the clause below*:

“Contractor shall furnish to the LEA product usage data in a disaggregated, computer-readable medium, at the user level, not less than monthly, indicating the extent to which the product is being used by users licensed on behalf of the LEA. Should the LEA choose, [Vendor] may provide this information directly to a designated third party on behalf of the LEA.”

*Of course, our lawyers implore us to tell you this is not legal advice (we’re just sharing what we’re seeing in publicly visible contracts), so check with your legal counsel or edit to find an adaptation best suited for your specific needs.

“But, aren’t product companies going to be reticent to provide it?” you ask. Actually, the answer is “no — not the good ones.” We’ve worked with hundreds of product companies — technically, we are one — and the inclusion of this clause actually helps product providers demonstrate the value and impact of their product, and work more closely with you to offer better products, support services, professional development and impact-related best practices. The leading tool providers are focused on helping you and your students achieve. They know that sharing visibility and providing access to the information that you need empowers you to choose the right edtech for your organization.